Let’s start here…only 1 Stanley Cup winner in the last 10 years has kicked off their regular season 0-2 (the 2015 Penguins). Is this a harbinger of the Winnipeg Jets’ future? All signs point to yes.
The Jets were supposed to take the Central Division by storm in 2021. Facing two ‘rebuilding’ franchises in the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks to start the season, many pundits (myself included) believed the Jets would start the season ‘hot’. Temperatures have been frigid, but we did get burned. Twice.
Let’s start with the good: Pierre-Luc Dubois played one very good period of hockey; Cole Perfetti looks like he belongs in the NHL; and nobody got injured. We’ll move on.
I’ve never subscribed to the adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, so here we go: Our special teams play has been abysmal (we are an impossible -12.5% Net PP%); Hellebuyck has been subpar; Wheeler belongs at Del Boca Vista; and Logan Stanley has impressed only the very impressionable Kevin Sawyer.
It hasn’t been a complete disaster (there have been several sightings of excellent play), but in totality, it has been subpar.
What happened? Predictable as it may be, the blame here rests with Jets leadership. Chevy now has an Immunity Idol for his terrific work over the summer, so Paul Maurice and Blake Wheeler – I’m looking at you. Our Captain has been killing penalties and my soul thus far this season. He has also seen prominent minutes in the ‘shooter’ spot on the power play, and leads all Jets forwards in ice time. This is elder abuse. We should be taking his car keys away, not giving him a Lamborghini (yes, I just compared the Jets roster to a fine Italian sports car). Both Maurice and Wheeler are complicit here.
In addition, benching Perfetti was a very ‘Maurice’ move and the fact that we have come out flat in each 3rd period is indicative of a dearth in leadership. Because nobody asked, here is what the Jets need to do:
• Fire Paul Maurice. I’m convinced that this will never happen in my lifetime, so let’s move on.
• Break up our top forward line. Wheeler is now a hindrance to Connor and Scheifele, and is starring in vampire dramas – Twilight.
• Nik Ehlers is our best forward and yet is 5th in ice time. Let’s remedy this please. Here’s my novel idea: play him on the first line, or perhaps even the first power play unit (crazy, I know).
• I regret to say that Logan Stanley should be honing his craft with the Manitoba Moose.
• Be more aggressive on the penalty kill. Collapsing works for lawn chairs and convertible tops. Nothing else.
• We have watched rookies take prominent roles for both our opponents this week. Let’s try Perfetti on the second line (and PP unit) and see how that works.
• The power play isn’t working. Bring back Matthieu Perreault (I’m only half kidding).
The biggest thing here…let’s get mad. For Jets seasons of old, this start might be acceptable, but not this year. Let’s aspire to be the 2015 Pittsburgh Penguins.